Sunday, April 22, 2012
Uncanny X-Force #24 - Vengeance Is A Dish Best Served Awesome
In the spirit of Easter, we often reflect on the values of love and forgiveness preached by some Palestinian hippie rabbi that got nailed to a cross. His name escapes me. But in the world of comics, love and forgiveness is more boring than a documentary on arm pit hairs. Uncanny X-Force takes the much more entertaining road of blood-soaked, hate-fueled vengeance. The X-men may be more inclined to go on Dr. Phil and talk out these deep-seated issues of hatred and disgust, but X-Force is a bit more direct. They're not afraid to hunt you down, shove a gun/claw/sword in your face, and use your blood toppings for their burgers. It sounds cruel until you consider that the enemies they hunt down considerably stretch the definition of what it means to be humane (or even human at times). X-Force has a strict policy of only killing people that deserve it. It doesn't always work out, but it makes for much more interesting stories than hearing some lame sermon on a mount.
Uncanny X-Force is one of the few series not caught up in the hurricane that is Avengers vs. X-men. The very nature of X-Force requires that it pull off this shit in secret and for the most part they have. Sure, they had a hard time explaining the whole Tabula Rasa world that formed out of nowhere over a town in Montana, but they try to be discrete when possible. Their most recent arc, Otherworld, made discretion largely unnecessary because they had to do their killing in another world. It still ended with Psylocke having to kill someone from her own family, but at least they didn't leave a giant fucking ecosystem in the Midwest. Now that they're finished in Otherworld they can focus on some of the other lingering issues from the Dark Angel Saga that have yet to be resolved.
It seems so long ago, but there are still a few story elements that the Dark Angel Saga has left unbutchered in the pages of Uncanny X-Force. It's worth noting that the main reason why AOA Nightcrawler stayed behind was because he wanted to hunt down the remaining AOA crew that went AWOL. AOA Beast is at the top of their list, but others managed to slip by as well. Uncanny X-Force #24 tells the story of X-Force finally getting around to those minor details. They start off easy by seeking out AOA Iceman. In the Dark Angel Saga, he was a titanic douche both literally and figuratively. He not only ran when shit got heavy. He decided to shack up with as many hookers as he could find in Madripoor as a means of enjoying a non-dystopian world. I admit I would probably do the same thing, but X-Force doesn't think a such cowardly douche-baggery should be rewarded. So once again using this as an excuse to put on a dress, Deadpool sneaks into AOA Iceman's den of depravity and decides to kill his boner amongst other things. But AOA Iceman places a lot of value on pussy so he's willing to fight for it.
From angry vengeance to something less inhumane, we get a brief glimpse of Psylocke and her family in Otherworld as they lay Jamie to rest. It's part of the lingering aftermath from the previous issue where Psylocke had to kill Jamie in order to stop a Goat-Headed monster from tentacle raping the omniverse (if only that were a joke). It is an emotional moment, but Psylocke is surprisingly nonchalant about it. The reasons for this are revisited, but the highlight here is how Brian Braddock essentially scorns Psylocke without saying it directly to her face. Fantomex offers his condolences. However, it's impossible to read anything he says and not think of it as being said in an overly douchy tone. Psylocke leaves Otherworld with Fantomex knowing she's probably never welcome there again. It's going to make for some pretty rough holidays moving forward. Guess that's why we have eggnog. When you don't have family, sweet lady alcohol is always there to deliver holiday cheer!
But enough of this boring family drama. If I wanted family disowning people, I would go to a family reunion organized by my born again Christian uncle in Texas. The main story in this issue is vengeance. AOA Iceman's little romp with Madripoor hookers was rudely interrupted by Deadpool, Wolverine, and AOA Nightcrawler. Since he doesn't take kindly to being denied the pussy he never got in the Age of Apocalypse reality, he quickly fights back. Just as he did in the Dark Angel Saga, he takes on his giant Iceman form. We can only assume he uses that opportunity to make his dick much bigger once he gets back to the hookers he had to leave behind. However, Wolverine and Nightcrawler didn't pull him out of a den of naked chicks without a plan. Granted, that was probably the hardest part of the plan, but the challenge known is to bring him down to size. Thankfully, that's nothing a grenade can't fix. In the world of Uncanny X-Force, grenades are as useful as duct tape.
As hookers and bombs are going off in Madripoor, Psylocke and Fantomex return to Cavern X. Once again, Fantomex uses this as an opportunity to sneak into Psylocke's panties. It's also a way of clearing up an unresolved plot from the Otherworld arc. In that story, Psylocke made a sacrifice to save Fantomex's ungrateful and phony Frenchman life. It wasn't revealed just what that sacrifice was. Now that Fantomex pushes the issues, he finds out that Psylocke sacrificed her ability to feel any remorse for the killing she did. That may sound like a real hippie thing to give up until you consider that Psylocke has been the unofficial conscious of Uncanny X-Force since the series began. She was the one that refused to kill Kid Apocalypse. She was the one that fought to save Angel (and failed). Now she's killed someone from her own family and the fact she no longer has the ability to feel guilt about it is pretty fucked up.
It may not be the same as having to go on a date with a convicted sex offender, but it's enough to hit her on a very personal level. She's just lost the man she loves. She lost a family member. Now she can't even feel sorrow about it like she should. I may not be Sigmund Freud here, but even I know that shit can't be healthy.
The capacity to feel sorrow is something that comes at a premium in the world of Uncanny X-Force. It can either motivate someone or make them whine like a girl who just saw her big brother throw her My Little Pony doll in the microwave. For AOA Nightcrawler, sorrow over the friends he lost in the Dark Angel Saga is more a motivator. It shows in the way he leaves Wolverine behind after he gets a blown up into a giant scab (again) just so he can hunt down Iceman. The battle that ensues is pretty epic. AOA Nightcrawler fights off hoards of Iceman's own Icemen minions to get to him. Along the way, Iceman tries to justify being a coward and he's not entirely wrong here. He says he doesn't want to fight anymore. He just wants to kick back, lay by a beach not littered with dead bodies, meet a pretty girl, and enjoy a world that isn't being routinely torched by mutant tyrants like Apocalypse. I can't honestly blame the guy, but Nightcrawler has a big problem with a friend of his just running from a conflict and living it up while others suffer.
Whether due to his cowardice or sloppy skills, Iceman lets Nightcrawler get the better of him. He teleports him into an industrial factory of sorts, the kind from Terminator 2 where liquid metal and blazing heat make it about as inviting as a trip to the planet Venus. Not only is it a bad area for the T-1000. It's also a bad area for mutants with ice powers. Iceman quickly wears down and Nightcrawler shows that he's far less forgiving than his 616 counterpart. All those Christian morals just don't work with a guy who spent most of his life in a dystopian world. It's actually a pretty emotional moment. These two were friends and Iceman's desire to enjoy life in a world that isn't fucked is completely understandable. Yet in a very un-Nightcrawler-like way, Nightcrawler throws him into a furnace and effectively kills his cowardly ass.
Even though the premise of Uncanny X-Force revolves around a greater willingness to kill, Rick Remender has done a great job of making these very unheroic acts dramatic in their own sense. Nightcrawler isn't just out to kill a guy who killed some of his friends back in the Dark Angel Saga. He's out to stop someone from living a happy life that he doesn't deserve. It's a different kind of twist on a very simple act of vengeance. There's something to be said for such a twist. A story where a coward gets his ass killed by someone he screwed over is simple enough. It's the purpose behind it that makes it awesome and Remender certainly made this moment as awesome as it needed to be.
That's one AOA runaway down with plenty left to go. But back at Cavern X, another issue from the Dark Angel Saga is addressed and this one doesn't involve throwing people in incinerators (although it probably should). Fantomex has a brief check-in with Genesis at the Jean Grey Institute. He's still technically the kid's uncle, but that's not his main concern. Hot Asian women who are emotionally damaged take a far greater priority. So after he ends his call with Genesis, he catches up with Psylocke. At first, he wants to talk. Then without saying a word, she just strips naked in front of him and pretty much offers herself to him. Now Fantomex may be a raging douche-bag whose nuts should be thrown into the nearest grinder, but when a hot Asian chick gets naked and offers herself to you the only logical thing to do is shut the fuck up.
Now I have a problem with this even though to this point, the issue has been pretty damn awesome. I understand that Rick Remender has sewn the seeds of sexual tension between Fantomex and Psylocke since the early days of the Dark Angel Saga. For the most part, Psylocke has rebuked him because Fantomex has come off as an unapologetic douche who cares more about getting into her panties than her emotional well-being. I also understand that Psylocke is vulnerable after losing Angel and Jamie. But just throwing herself at Fantomex? That just doesn't seem to fit with all the shit she's done lately. I get that some people have a fucked up way of coping, but this is just too fucked up. I don't blame Fantomex for taking her up on her offer for hot Asian pussy. I blame Psylocke for effectively vindicating Fantomex's douche-baggery. The world is full of assholes like Fantomex because women like Psylocke fuck them. Until that stops, both the comic book world and the real world are doomed. So for Psylocke, both her character and the human race as a whole is damaged.
Rick Remender has done a lot for these characters since this series began. He's taken characters like Angel, Psylocke, Fantomex, Wolverine, and AOA Nightcrawler down some very interesting paths. This character development is almost as striking as the action. He's better than most writers at making those developments feel logical and dramatic. In this issue, he succeeds in playing up those dramatics with AOA Nightcrawler. He hasn't forgotten that Nightcrawler considered Iceman an ally at one point and it's not like Iceman was looking to piss him off. He just wanted to know what it was like to live in a world that wasn't fucked worse than the Greece's credit rating. That's understandable. What isn't understandable is Psylocke's inability to keep her pussy dry around Fantomex. She's called the man an insufferable asshole on more than one occasion and been completely right. Then she just decides to bone him and after the man had his face ripped off no less. There's being vulnerable and then there's just being stupid. Psylocke has lost a lot lately, but how she goes from loss to boning Fantomex is simply without excuse even under the best LSD trip.
This unusual balance or lack thereof may only be the beginning of more elaborate drama with Psylocke. Or maybe it's just one of those one-time things like Wolverine boning Domino on top of a pile of money (which is every bit as awesome as it sounds). The point here is we really don't know and Remender really hasn't been very keen on developing the subtleties between Fantomex and Psylocke. We get he wants to bone her. That part is understandable. It's everything else in between that makes no fucking sense. While I'm confident he can develop this story as he has so many others, it's still somewhat disappointing that he hasn't done a better job of it with this issue.
But my aversion to the Psylocke/Fantomex scene is mostly due to personal taste. I don't let that take from the fact that this is still an awesome comic with many awesome elements that strike at the heart of what makes Uncanny X-Force great. There's sex, there's violence, and there's a lot of bitter vengeance in between. There's a potential for backstabbing and a potential for hate sex. You don't get that with many other comics and Rick Remender continues to pull it off masterfully with this series. So with only minor dramatic inconsistencies aside, I give Uncanny X-Force #24 a 4 out of 5. If you can get over your disgust about Fantomex getting laid, you'll find plenty to enjoy in this issue. We can only hope that Psylocke will rip his face off again and use it to kiss that perfect ass of hers. Nuff said!